GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2002-01 > 1010665854
From: (Albert B. Bach)
Subject: Re: Overall Reliability of Medieval Lineages
Date: 10 Jan 2002 04:30:54 -0800
You make an interesting point.
From a biological viewpoint, from the genetics aspect of it, certainly
a lot of these "lines" could be out and out wrong.
And perhaps all those with British ancestry, maybe they could find,
genetically, a link to Edward III, or someone of that caliber, despite
not having a "gateway" ancestor who landed with Winthrop's Fleet.
Maybe. But for every King and his nobles and VIPs, however, there are
a million merchants, tanners, charcoal makers, and farmers. The odds
that their "lines" outweigh the noble ones are pretty good I'd say.
But I think the medieval lineages which we concentrate on here,
crafted in the age that they were, are more about inheritance and the
transmission of the "House" or "Family," and not the genetic realities
Let’s say our subject is the son of a man with two wives.
Further, the father of one of the wives passes on an inheritance. If
that inheritance passes to this son’s brother, and not a single
provision is made for our subject, and if we are absent the birth
dates, we could reasonably ASSUME that they were half-brothers, and
assign the subject to the mother whose father didn’t pass
anything on to him. (Never mind that we could probably never discover
he was really the son of the milkman.)
It IS an assumption based on who got what, but remains a clue,
valuable perhaps, as to the reality.
Lacking proofs of paternity (DNA samples) why not accept what our
subjects accepted with regards to their families and ancestry? We
know they did. What they accepted was carrying legal weight. What
they traced with regards to their "family tree" determined who was
getting what, who became/remained noble, who did not, and so on.
OF COURSE, bear in mind, whereas our task is far easier than trying to
get paternity testing done for Edward III, for instance, it is still
We can no more make things up to craft these lineages because we
choose to track tradition and not genetics. No, the family tree can
be accurate genetically, and failing that, it ought to at least be
made accurate with regards to reality, and lacking that, why deny them
their own closely held traditions?
As you rightly say, it really doesn't matter. No one is trying to
research whether or not a link with the Hapsburgs exists with them to
determine whether or not to have children because they don’t
want their offspring to have those funny chins. The Hapsburgs' genes
are long diluted into obscurity.
Maybe back in 1800 my family left an inheritance in Scotland. Maybe I
could claim it. My claim won't necessarily need to be based on
paternity testing as much as just legally establishing I was a
My point is that earlier than modern science, we do have to rely on
other information to establish these connections. And it’s the
joy of discovery with which we pursue them. It’s a treat
establishing a link to the FitzAlans, and it’s fun working on
confirming it, and it’s educational discovering the history of
the period in which those forebears lived.
And if the mathematical odds are enough for some, I've seen "kite
surfing" and if they are looking for some other hobby, that really
looked like fun.
(Andy) wrote in message news:<>...
> <snip> There are just TOO many (60, if you
> count the genetic transmission of each proposed parent per generation)
> possibilities for error -- false paternity, multiple wives (maybe even
> of the same first name, which would confuse records even more),
> transcription errors in records, errors in modern interpretations of
> these records, etc., etc., etc. It just TAKES an awful lot of faith to
> even PUT faith in a lineage extending back that far.
> Bottom line -- if you have any European ancestry, simple
> mathematical/biological odds prove your royal descent better than any
> lineage can.
|Re: Overall Reliability of Medieval Lineages by (Albert B. Bach)|